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Quality drink

Ropate Valemei
Wednesday, July 09, 2014

WATER Authority of Fiji CEO Opetaia Ravai has assured Fiji's people they are drinking safe and quality water.

His comments come in response to statements from the Rotary Pacific Water Foundation regarding water sanitation and quality in Fiji.

Rotary Foundation Chairman Warwick Pleass said in a speech last week in Suva that US water experts had found some of the water they had tested in Fiji to be of low quality.

The foundation issued a statement yesterday saying that it had been misquoted.

Mr Ravai said he wanted to reassure the people of Fiji that they were receiving quality water.

He said WAF conducted full chemical testing from catchment areas and water treatment plants and all water flowing through WAF's reticulation system was analysed, both chemically and microbiologically.

In his response to this newspaper's front page article yesterday, Mr Ravai said more than 720,000 people in the country drank water supplied by the WAF with no ill effects.

"As CEO of WAF, I just like to reassure our people that we produce 325 mega million litres of water daily and all that water is safe. It's treated and safe for human consumption."

Health Ministry official Dip Chand said based on regular independent tests the ministry conducted, WAF's water met World Health Organisation guidelines and all other necessary requirements.

"From the Ministry of Health perspective, WAF water is very safe," Mr Chand said. WAF Water and Sewerage director Samuela Tuburi said WAF conducted full chemical testing from catchment areas and water treatment plants.

"I totally agree with Ravai in terms of the quality standard," he said.

"From the regulator's side, we maintain the level of quality standard and that is where we come in," Mr Tuburi said.

He said the government had been investing in safe drinking water.

In a speech tape recorded by The Fiji Times, Mr Pleass, the chairman of the Rotary Pacific Water Foundation, said some of the water in Fiji which was tested by the US experts was of a standard lower than Uganda.

Mr Pleass was speaking at the head office of BSP, where the bank was presenting to the foundation a contribution of $5000.

Mr Pleass did not say if the tests were performed on WAF water.

"We had a team of US experts in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) come in a few weeks back and they brought fancy water testing kits which they use around the world to give us fairly instant results as to water," Mr Pleass said.

"And they were just shaking their heads at some of the quality of water they did (test), that it's actually worse than Uganda and some places in Africa that are really bad and the worst that they see in a country that has so much water free.

"It's a huge thing in Fiji and the cause of much of our health and hygiene issues in Fiji," he said.

But in a separate statement issued yesterday, the foundation said it had been "completely misquoted".

"The statements made last week have little to do with Fiji and more to do with the wider Pacific island countries," the statement said.

"And in particular, the statements had nothing to do with the quality of water from the tap provided by the Water Authority of Fiji."

Mr Pleass said the Rotary team conducting the tests were "experts", not scientists as reported by The Fiji Times.

Contacted yesterday about his comments, Mr Pleass said he would respond to further queries at a later date.

* EDITOR'S NOTE

We are satisfied, based on an audio recording, that we quoted Mr Pleass correctly.

We do not know if his comments about "some of the tests" he refers to were tests on water supplied by WAF. Mr Pleass would not comment to The Fiji Times yesterday.

Our sub-headline yesterday said "Experts: Our quality is worse than Uganda".

This was not meant to suggest that all water in Fiji is of a low standard.





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